A Cass County resident recently set a new breakaway roping record at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla.
McKenzie Wansing of Garden City broke the arena record in breakaway roping July 11 with a time of 1.81 seconds. The previous record was held by Kelsey Brashear of Lake Charles, Louisiana, with a time of 1.89 seconds.
Wansing, who was homeschooled and is heading to Vernon College in Vernon, Texas, on a full ride scholarship, told Siri Stevens of Rodeo News that she owes a lot of her success to her horse, Six, a 10-year-old grade mare that was the Colorado State University bareback horse of the year.
“Nobody could stay on her more than six seconds,” said Wansing. “They were starving her down when a kid asked if he could have her and he started her as a calf roping horse. I saw some potential in her and she became mine. She is a horse with a lot of heart and has had a rough life.”
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Wansing spent time with her. Three years ago, Six developed Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) and McKenzie couldn’t ride her for two years.
“She got mean and kind of went crazy – it’s like fibromyalgia in people,” said Wansing.
Wansing was able to witness Six’s bucking ability during that time.
“I was putting back boots on her and she turned around and took off – it was cool to watch – she has a very unique buck – when her front feet hit the ground she sucks back underneath herself and changes directions,” said Wansing.
After Six overcame the disease, Wansing set the arena record riding her at the Missouri High School Finals Rodeo last year. After her third trip to the IFYR, she competed for the second time at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo.
That 1.81 run at the IFYR is not the fastest run Wansing and her horse have ever made. She said they have gone as low as 1.6 seconds and have 13 runs this year under two seconds. Still, her run at IFYR was one of their best.
“It happened really quickly,” Wansing said. “When the rope left my hand, I asked myself why I did that – when it landed on the head, I knew it was good.”
She has spent a lot of time scoring at the house so they are solid in the box. They shave time off by doing what’s called a walking score.
“When I get to the front, I nod my head – it keeps my horse free. I’ve been doing that for six or seven months now,” said Wansing. “She does everything on her own; I just sit there and throw my rope. When I catch, she gets really sassy and prances out of the arena.”
Wansing won her first buckle when she was six years-old and competing in team roping. Both of her parents used to rodeo. Her mom, Michelle, used to compete in team roping, breakaway roping and barrel racing. Her dad, Matt, is a team roper through and through.
“When I give him a chance to ride my horse, he still ropes,” said Wansing.
An only child, Wansing said she learned how to rodeo from her parents and her coach, Cali Griffin, a former assistant coach at Ft. Scott Community College in Kansas.
“She had faith in me when a lot of people didn’t,” said Wansing. “She saw a lot of potential in me, kind of like what I saw in my horse.”
A horse that has prospered along with her rider.
“A lot of love can change a lot of horses,” said Wansing. “That horse has so much personality – she needed her person and I guess that would be me.”